One detail had me worried last night about where we camped. The campsite was far enough off the trail that I would be unlikely to see anyone walk by. This was a concern because I knew Just Awesome was not far away. I feared my friend from the Woohoo Crew would pass the campsite without me seeing him. I didn’t want to miss a chance to see him again.
When I decided yesterday to cowboy camp on the lawn next to the Trout Lake General Store, I hadn’t calculated a few possible drawbacks. For one, the location was a little noisy overnight, but of course, the sound wouldn’t be any different if I were sleeping in my tent. The real problem was dew. When I woke up this morning, my sleeping quilt was nearly soaked from the moisture it had accumulated overnight.
My alarm was set for 4:30 this morning. This was a day for an early start because I needed to walk just over 15 miles to reach a road into the small village of Trout Lake. Dave and I were planning to resupply there and that required a 14-mile hitch. We wanted to get to the road as early as possible in case it took a while before someone picked us up.
Walupt Lake’s name is said to come from a legend of the Yakama tribe. Actually, there appears to be more than one legend for the lake and I’m not sure which one is the original. The Guthooks trail guide says the lake is named for a legendary pack of wild dogs that lived in the lake and attacked anyone who would turn their back to the lake. Another story says a Yakama hunter spent several days chasing a mighty deer until it led him to the lake. He saw the deer jump in, swim around the lake, then disappear. As the story goes, hunters since then will sometimes see the great deer swimming in the lake. I didn’t camp at the lake, but a pond nearby. And though I wasn’t attacked by wild dogs and I didn’t see a mighty deer swimming, mighty animals were nearby.
Ralph was only planning to hike with me today until we crossed a ridge called the Knife’s Edge, which ended near the summit of Old Snowy Mountain. From there, he intended to turn around and hike back to White Pass. He was unsure if he wanted to try to walk all the way back to White Pass today, but we agreed to get a little earlier start than normal to give him enough time. Then I forgot to set my alarm. I didn't wake up until 5:15 a.m., about 15 minutes later than planned. Ralph said he didn’t mind, but I felt bad. As it turned out, we were both ready to leave at about the same time. We were back on the trail just before 7 a.m.
Mt. Rainier has dominated my views of the mountains for the last four days on the trail. It will remain in sight for a few more days, but as of today it will be in my rearview mirror. There will be many more magnificent mountains to enjoy ahead, so I won’t be missing out in scenery.
A number of years ago, back when blogging was first becoming a popular form of expression on the internet, I tried my hand at it. I wrote about hiking, including trips I’d made to summit mountains above 6,000 feet in the southern Appalachians and weekend hikes on the Appalachian Trail. In one post that was more of a rant than anything informative or interesting, I said I would never take a new device called an iPhone on a backpacking trip. This gives you an idea of how long ago it was when I started blogging. Before I became too busy to keep up the writing, I hit upon a little stunt to pull during a trip to Washington with my wife. I discovered our drive home would cross the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington and the Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming. I live relatively close to the AT, so if I stopped to walk on the PCT and CDT, then make a quick trip to the AT in the same week, I could claim I had hiked the Triple Crown in one week. Admittedly, I could only say I had walked the width of the trails, but that was part of the fun.
We wouldn’t have far to reach Ralph’s truck today because we had camped last night just 11.1 miles from Chinook Pass, which was where he left it two days ago. I wasn't going to go off trail there to resupply, however, as I had done at other places he had parked. I will continue for one more day, then Ralph will meet me again when I arrive at White Pass.
Day 76, Green Pass to Stealth Site at Mile 2335.4
Built to last while years roll past like cloudscapes in the sky
When I woke up this morning, the first thought to enter my head was the date: July 21. This was a significant day for me because Kim and I were married on this day forty years ago. We weren’t together today to share our anniversary and that made me feel a little melancholy.
Day 75, Forest Road at Mile 2376.0 to Green Pass
We're rollin' Rainier and the jealous want to get some
One of the defining icons of Washington is the state’s tallest mountain, Mt. Rainier. On clear days, it can be seen from many locations in the state, including the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, which is about 60 miles away. The mountain stands at 14,411 feet above sea level and is an active volcano. Much like Mt. St. Helens, it remains at risk of erupting at any time. Mt. Rainier is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because more than 80,000 people live in the immediate area.
The day started with an unfortunate discovery while I was preparing to upload photos to my social media accounts. Even though I fixed the problem in my camera that kept the lens from retracting, I didn’t know until this morning that a valuable feature was broken. The camera would no longer transmit photos wirelessly to my phone. This was by no means a hike-ending tragedy, but it was a big annoyance. My camera takes better photos than my phone, so I use that while hiking, then transfer the photos to my phone when I want to share them on social media.
It was good to be hiking with Ralph again, though I didn’t see or talk to him much yesterday. The weather had been dreary and damp, and the trail was rocky. Instead, we focused on getting to camp. Today was going to be different. With only a short distance to reach Snoqualmie Pass, we had plenty of time to find a place to stay and figure out our resupply for the next section.
Day 72, Tentsite near Lemah Creek to Gravel Lake
Several times unconsciously I've stumbled on the path
According to what we discussed at our campsite near Trap Pass, Ralph planned to meet me on the trail today. For that reason, I tried to get moving and out of camp a little sooner than normal, and did reasonably well at that. I left at 6:30 a.m., which was before Val and the father-and-son section hikers woke up.
When I awoke this morning, my tent was soaking wet, though no rain fell last night. The reason was condensation. If the breeze that kept mosquitoes away last evening had continued through the night, my tent would probably have remained dry. The breeze died, so damp air settled and condensation formed inside the tent. Bluejay and Sunkist left camp while I was packing, but Val was still here. He was in his tent and only poked his head outside as I was about to leave.
Rain was falling as I woke up and prepared to leave camp this morning. It only fell for about an hour, but a pattern was set to link together the whole day. Rain, no rain, repeat.